ASA Adjudication on Open College Network North West Region
Open College Network North West Region t/a
15 August 2012
Internet (on own site)
Number of complaints:
A website, www.openawards.org.uk, seen in June 2012, stated "Welcome to our new website. Open Awards is the exciting new name for all the products previously brought to you by OCNNWR ... We have launched our new brand to signal the change to being an Awarding Organisation for a wide range of qualifications ...".
Virtuoso Legal, on behalf of their client, The National Open College Network (NOCN), challenged whether the reference to OCN was misleading and implied endorsement.
CAP Code (Edition 12)
The solicitor for Open College Network North West Region (OCNNWR) replied on the advertiser's behalf. They supplied the ASA with the history of the organisation including their past and current relationships which had ended with a transitional agreement which meant that OCNNWR would end their membership of NOCN on 31 July 2012. The solicitors pointed out that OCNNWR was the acronym for their client's name, registered with the Charity Commission and Companies House. They said that the acronym had been used for several years, therefore it was known by those with whom their client has dealt with, including the public and the complainant. They continued to say that, as the reference to OCN (Open College Network) was descriptive, it did not carry any approval or endorsement. In conclusion they said that OCNNWR could not be considered a claim of approval, endorsement or authorisation of any party other than their client as it could not mean or refer to anything other than the advertiser.
OCNNWR's website clearly stated that they had adopted a new name and also made reference to their acronym which the ASA understood had been used for several years. The home page made no other reference to OCN, further references to OCNNWR or the full name Open College Network. In addition we noted that their branding was clearly different to other OCN's associated with the NOCN. We also understood that the acronym was used as they were registered under the full name by Companies House and the Charity Commission. Because the website clearly pointed out that they were re-branding we concluded the ad was not misleading and did not imply endorsement.
We investigated the ad under CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising) and 3.50 (Endorsements and testimonials) but did not find it in breach.
No further action necessary.